What is a reasonable accommodation?
A reasonable accommodation is a change, adaptation or modification to a policy, program, service, or workplace which will allow a qualified person with a disability to participate fully in a program, take advantage of a service, or perform a job. Reasonable accommodations may include, for example, those which are necessary in order for the person with a disability to use and enjoy a dwelling, including public and common use spaces. Since persons with disabilities may have special needs due to their disabilities, in some cases, simply treating them exactly the same as others may not ensure that they have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.
In order to show that a requested accommodation may be necessary, there must be an identifiable relationship, or nexus, between the requested accommodation and the individual's disability. As discussed in the next question and answer, what is reasonable must be determined on a case-by-case basis. However, experience has shown that the following examples are often reasonable accommodations.
A federally assisted housing provider has a policy of not providing assigned parking spaces. A tenant with a mobility impairment, who has difficulty walking, is provided a reasonable accommodation by being given an assigned accessible parking space in front of the entrance to his unit.
A federally assisted housing provider has a policy of requiring tenants to come to the rental office to pay their rent. A tenant with a mental disability, who is afraid to leave her unit, is provided a reasonable accommodation by being allowed to mail her rent payment.
A federally assisted housing provider has a no pets policy. A tenant, who uses a wheelchair and has difficulty picking up items off the ground, is allowed to have an assistive animal that fetches things for her as a reasonable accommodation to her disability.
An older tenant has a stroke and begins to use a wheelchair. Her apartment has steps at the entrance and she needs a ramp to enter the unit. Her federally assisted housing provider pays for the construction of a ramp as a reasonable accommodation to the tenant's disability.